Pools Pick Up Point At Rodney ParadePools consolidated their position outside of the bottom two with a creditable point away at play-off chasing Newport County on Good Friday.
However, Ronnie Moore’s men left South Wales feeling a tinge of disappointment after a brilliant first half performance had seen them race in to a two-goal lead at Rodney Parade.
The home side looked shell-shocked and a boisterous home crowd were silenced when Lee Minshull put through his own goal on fifteen minutes before Jordan Hugill doubled Pools lead on 37.
It was nothing more than Pools had deserved; having weathered an uncomfortable opening period when The Exiles put some pressure on, the opening goal changed the game and confidence grew.
Jonathan Franks was at the heart of all good things for Pools and it was his run on to Dan Jones’ precise ball in behind that helped create the breakthrough. He chased in to possession on the left of the area and knocked it wide to Michael Duckworth who cut inside before sending a wicked in-swinging delivery in to the far post where Minshull could only divert it past his own keeper.
The 239 travelling Pools fans were in raptures and they roared their team on as they went on to dominate the remainder of the opening period with Franks’ running causing no end of problems for the home defence.
The forward timed another surge in behind to perfection moments after the opening goal but when he got to the byline his cut back was intercepted by a defender as County got back in their numbers.
Aaron Tshibola was next to spot Franks in space and he fed it in to his path on the right of the box, allowing him to jink inside and drive a shot on goal which was held by keeper Joe Day.
The home crowd were starting to get agitated but County were struggling to contain Franks who again scampered through on a Jones through ball but dragged a shot across goal and wide.
It was no surprise that he played a key role in the second goal as he drove to the edge of the box and smashed a shot at goal which cannoned off the bar and looped up in the air to Tshibola who nodded it back in to the six-yard area for Jordan Hugill to turn home from close range.
It set in place wild celebrations on the pitch, in the stands and on the touchline as the travelling fans dreamt of closing in on a fifth straight win.
Scott Flinders had to make a wonderful save to protect the two-goal lead when he spread himself to block a powerful effort from Miles Storey but he was unable to stop County reducing the deficit just before half time.
Patient build-up on the edge of the Pools box saw Max Porter lay the ball across in to the path of centre-back Darren Jones who cracked a low dive beyond the despairing dive of Flinders.
The goal changed the complexion of the game and – importantly – gathered the home fans back behind their team and they only had to wait two minutes in to the second half for the equaliser when O’Connor spun away from Scott Harrison and finished precisely inside the far post.
After that it became a real battle and a seemingly constant stream of free-kicks meant that Pools struggled to get in to any kind of rhythm and had to defend with increasing determination.
Brad Walker did come close with a free-kick from thirty yards which just didn’t dip enough, while at the other end Flinders had to move quickly to pluck Andy Sandell’s dead ball out of the top corner.
With County perhaps looking the more likely and Pools having to rely on the counter-attack, David Mirfin produced a wonderful piece of defending to first deny O’Connor at the front post with a perfectly-timed tackle before hurling himself in the way of Adam Chapman’s follow-up strike.
The full time whistle was greeted with cheers by the travelling contingent, content that their team had once again given their all and earned another crucial point in the battle for survival.
Newport County 2 Pools 2Full Time:
3531 (239 Pools)Attendance:
Harrison (8), Mirfin (69), D Jones (79), Walker (82)Booked:
Newport County:Day, Porter (Chapman 82), Jones, Yakubu, Minshull, O'Connor, Sandell, Klukowski (Jeffers 62), Storey, Tutonda, Byrne.
Stephens, Flynn, Parker, Poole, Collins.Subs Not Used:
Pools:Flinders, Austin, Harrison (J Jones 79), Mirfin, D Jones, Duckworth, Featherstone, Tshibola, Walker, Franks, Hugill (Harewood 89).
Subs Not Used:Maxted, Richards, Nelson-Addy, Hawkins, Smith.